Freshly harvested, tender spring kale has arrived in Western Massachusetts and I couldn’t be more thrilled! Kale is truly a superstar vegetable. It’s packed with nutrition, tastes great, comes in several colorful varieties and is incredibly versatile in the kitchen.
Kale is a member of the illustrious, cancer-fighting Brassica family and, like its cousins broccoli and daikon radish, has been researched extensively in recent years. Studies suggest that kale may help suppress tumor growth, promote detoxification at the genetic DNA level and support healthy cholesterol levels. Kale is packed with antioxidant flavonoids that fight inflammation and is notably high in lutein, a yellow carotenoid pigment required for healthy vision. It is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K, a good source of manganese, calcium and other bone-building minerals and, best of all... it’s GREEN!
Green foods are beneficial for many reasons, including their exalted status of being the premier alkalizing foods on the planet. Alkaline nutrition is important because the pH of human blood must remain within a very tight, alkaline pH range (between 7.35 and 7.45) and the world we live in has become increasingly acidic, making it tough for the body to maintain. Processed foods, meats, sugars, white flour and most grains (i.e. the modern diet) along with chronic stress (i.e. the modern lifestyle) all promote acidity and threaten our alkaline balance. Ongoing low grade acidic conditions in the body are implicated in a Pandora’s box of health problems from bone loss and premature aging to arthritis, heart disease, cancer...you name it.
Promoting alkalinity is becoming increasingly recognized as critical to healthy physical and metabolic function, so the more alkalizing green vegetables you can eat, the better. Of course, salads and steamed greens are a great place to start. But why stop there? Some leafy greens like KALE are so versatile, they allow you to enjoy greens at every meal—even dessert!
To show you how, I’ll share three delicious and innovative recipes that I’ve adapted from Raw Fusion Recipes by LindaJoy Rose, PhD. LindaJoy is a leader in the field of hypnotherapy and an enthusiastic raw food educator. Her wonderful little recipe book, now in its second printing, is the companion volume to Raw Fusion, an introductory guide to incorporating raw/living foods into a healthy diet. (Visit rawfusionliving.com to order the books or learn more.)
And now…let’s have some fun with Kale Around the Clock!
Pineapple-Grapefruit Green Smoothie
To bathe your cells in alkalinity on a regular basis, I suggest starting each day with a tall glass of delicious green juice. (My revitalizing Ginger Green Juice is a favorite.) If you don’t have a juicer or simply find yourself in the mood for a more substantial meal, a blended green smoothie—which, unlike juice, retains the fiber of the fruits and veggies it contains—is a fine alternative. Experiment with different fresh leafy greens or green herbs—spinach, kale, parsley, dill—they’re all good. Cilantro really makes the flavors pop in this Pineapple-Grapefruit Green Smoothie. Enjoy for breakfast or lunch.
½ red grapefruit, peeled and pitted
1 cup chopped pineapple
½ lemon, peeled and pitted
4 leaves of kale, chopped
1 cup cilantro, leaves and stems
4 slices fresh ginger root
½ cup water or cooled lemon balm tea
Rough chop all ingredients, add to blender and blend on high until well combined. Add additional liquid or ice to reach desired temperature and consistency. Makes one pint.
Recipe inspired by Green Fairy’s Lemonade in Raw Fusion Recipes by LindaJoy Rose.
Lunar Kale Chips
When I was a kid, people used to say the moon was made of green cheese. These days, everyone knows the moon is made of rocks and dust, but we can still make our own green cheese using sprouted pumpkin seeds and seasonings. The classic approach to making pumpkin seed paté is tweaked here to create a savory Lunar Sauce for these out-of-this-world kale chips.
1 bunch Red Russian kale, or other flat leaf variety
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds, soaked 4 hours, drained and rinsed
1 lemon’s juice
½ cup water
1 clove garlic
½ tsp turmeric
½ tsp chipotle chili powder
¾ tsp Himalayan pink salt
2 Tbs. nutritional yeast
Rinse kale leaves well and remove stems. Save stems for juice and set leaves aside. To make sauce, put pumpkin seeds, lemon juice, water, and all seasonings except nutritional yeast into blender and blend on medium to high speed until well combined. Pour sauce into a large bowl, add a little more water to the blender and blend quickly to loosen the remaining sauce, then add this to what’s already in the bowl. Stir in the nutritional yeast by hand. Taste and adjust salt or seasonings if desired. Coat each kale leaf on both sides with the Lunar Sauce. Arrange leaves on dehydrator trays lined with Teflex sheets. Avoid overlapping leaves to permit air circulation. (My bunch of kale contained twelve leaves and I needed four trays to lay them all out.) Use up all the sauce—you should have just enough.
Dehydrate kale chips for one hour at 145 degrees, then reduce temperature to just under 110 degrees and continue dehydrating for about four hours. At this point, gently flip chips off of the Teflex and onto the mesh trays, dry sides down. Dehydrate another two to four hours or until desired crispiness is reached. Keeping them slightly moist and flexible is a fun option and keeps the kale a bit more lively, since a plant’s vitality is primarily contained in its water-containing portions.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you could try making Lunar Kale Chips in a very low-temperature oven, perhaps with the door left slightly open. If using this method, use a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and keep an eye on the chips as they dry – they might be crisp within 20 to 30 minutes.
Recipe inspired by Cheezy Chili Chips in Raw Fusion Recipes by LindaJoy Rose.
Kale Fudge Torte
I was planning on making Kale Brownies with this adapted recipe, but I overdid it on the food processing and things got pretty sticky fast! Luckily, my mistake yielded outstanding results, and a Torte was born. There are two whole cups of chopped kale in this recipe but you really can’t taste them at all, as confirmed by my Sunday Yoga test group. (Maybe once you know it’s there you THINK you can taste the kale, but nobody guessed the secret ingredient.) In fact, this torte may be the most decadent way ever to “sneak” greens into the diet. Consider it a stealth health strategy for people like the mom I met last week at the Greenfield farmer’s market, whose son refuses to eat green veggies. Mom, your secret is safe with me!
1½ cup walnuts or pecans
½ teaspoon sea salt
10 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
2 cups chopped kale leaves, loosely packed (stems removed!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup raw cacao powder, plus 1 teaspoon
1 Tbs coconut butter (not coconut oil)
1 or 2 Tbs maple syrup
In a food processor, pulse nuts and sea salt until finely ground. Add remaining ingredients and process until dough comes together. You may add a tablespoon or two of water to facilitate things if necessary—the dough will be extremely thick.
Place dough on a piece of parchment paper laid flat on the counter and press into a square or round shape, one inch tall. The dough is VERY sticky so moisten your hands with water or use a second piece of parchment paper on top of the dough to help you press and shape the torte. When shaped, wrap in parchment paper and chill until firm, about one hour or longer. Before serving, sprinkle top with additional teaspoon of raw cacao powder by sifting through a fine mesh strainer, such as a tea strainer. (To sift, hold strainer over the torte and “stir” the cacao powder with a spoon or chopstick to sift the cacao onto the surface of the torte, covering the entire surface with fine powder.)
Store Kale Fudge Torte in the fridge and consume within three days—the raw, living kale in the recipe leads to a short shelf life. If you can’t or don’t want to finish the torte in only three days, I suggest freezing individual sized pieces, each tightly wrapped in parchment paper and sealed within a freezer bag. Then, when you feel like a treat, just take out a packet and let it warm up on the counter. Yum!
Recipe inspired by Family Favorite Flourless Chocolate Cake in Raw Fusion Recipes by LindaJoy Rose. Many thanks to LJ for sending me the books and for being so patient while I prepared this post! ♥